None of Us

I first started noticing a shift online about two years ago. I’ve said this before and I really think it’s true. Until then I had had some negative experiences online but nothing that different or more frequent than the rare in-person unpleasantries.

But then it started changing. For me, in the online interactions I have, people became more competitive. People became more catty. And it was harder to distance yourself from people too…

To further explain, I don’t become genuine friends with people (on my end) until I am really and truly close with them to at least some degree. I might count people as good, friendly acquaintances or something like that but nothing more… I don’t let most people get that close. It’s just not wise in my opinion. And it’s not personal against people but…you can’t open up and genuinely trust most people with your heart. Not because they’re all bad or something but because except for a few, most people won’t understand or appreciate us because we’re all so complicated and unique. Real friends are rare. And it’s lovely to enjoy people but I don’t think it makes sense to count everyone you’re on good, pleasant and friendly terms with as a true friend.

Anyway, on Instagram I’ve had many friendly acquaintances. Many! And possibly a very few almost genuine or genuine friends. But…some people seem to have thought things were deeper?

And that has occasionally become a problem when they post 10 photos of their tiny poodle, three of the mushrooms in their yard behind the garage, five of perfume and another two of an open bottle of vodka they’ve recently consumed and one of their morning tomato juice…over a period of weeks or months without taking time to like or comment on anything I’ve posted (save maybe for one post I had tons of likes on). And depending on how much I enjoyed their feed, how long we’ve followed each other or the pleasantness of my interactions with them, I tend to unfollow them sooner or later.

I’m not going to like all of your photos of mushrooms, caterpillars and your neighbors when you can’t be bothered to like anything or almost anything I’ve posted… For weeks or months.

And that’s just one scenario. There are many variations on that.

There have been some people who just couldn’t seem to keep from making seemingly catty remarks or being too unpleasant (often in a passive aggressive way) and I’ve had to unfollow them too and at times I’ve blocked them if they keep coming back and making passive-aggressive catty remarks. I don’t find it necessary to keep interacting with people who probably don’t actually like me just so as not to offend them.

But, at any rate, I think people often take the internet too personally in the wrong way in general. And I think we’re all slightly losing track of reality because of that…

On the internet (and to some degree in real life) people come and go and very few stay for long or that long. Some stay forever. But those are rare people… Some people find that difficult to accept in real life but on the internet there are a lot of people who seem to struggle. They want you to keep following them, giving them attention and etc. but they don’t seem to realize other people’s inherent impermanence, especially if they aren’t polite or they lose interest in interacting with others themselves. Or they overestimate people’s continuing and unconditional interest in them or what they post.

But, of course, taking things too personally on the internet is about more than just struggling with letting people come and go.

When the internet first started it was mind blowing (it still is). The number of people you could reach, who could reach you was staggering. There were no walls. No oceans. No boundaries to the vastness. We all got a kick out of talking to someone from the other side of the world who we knew we’d almost certainly never meet.

And in our amazement and sincere optimism we opened ourselves up to each other to connect and reach out. On Myspace. On Facebook. On Twitter… On blogs.

Some of us had truly life changing experiences. People met their true love. People found long lost friends and family… They made new true friends. Or they connected with people in a very meaningful way. I know I’ve had a few experiences like that…

And there were trolls. Sure. But they were like a fart. They stank and were occasionally a sign of something more pernicious but generally they could be ignored…

But then things shifted somehow. People started basically living online… And, again, I think a lot of us started losing track of reality. At least slightly.

In real life if you see someone drive by you in a Bentley while you’re driving your beat up 1998 Dodge minivan you might admire their car but you very likely don’t take them to heart. Or, at least, people didn’t as much… There was this beautiful, sad distance between people. It meant that you might not ever truly know how “the other half” lived but you accepted that as part of life. You were basically forced to.

There were inherent, intangible walls of respect, privacy and mental quiet for all of us.

Of course, I should note, that lack of distance on the internet can be good. Maybe that was you in one of those cars. Maybe you were a cute, decent and sweet 18 year old guy driving his parents old minivan. And maybe in the front seat of the Bentley was a 17 year old girl who thought you were incredibly attractive… But neither of you would ever have a way to meet naturally. And in that way, the internet is great because it’s fairly egalitarian… Or, it used to be…

But overall, I think things have become toxic. Again, what in real life people can ignore, cope with or grieve in a more authentic and healthy way, they take too much to heart and too personally online. It’s affecting how we treat each other in real life and online.

It’s like we’re all drunk. Some people become very silly and post things that are entertaining and fun. Others become mean, conniving and/or confrontational. Some more promiscuous. Some more quiet and creepily observational… And others pour out their hearts and from time to time find a real connection but at other times they just walk away bruised and in despair.

Really, I don’t think we’ve been self aware enough as a world when it comes to the internet and I don’t think we’ve handled it particularly well.

We all were at least somewhat naïve. We had never had a taste of the internet before… And now, just a decade or two down the road, we have to figure out how to get a grip on this social beast. We have to not to let it inside of us in the wrong ways. We have to use it for good and not let it control us or the situation will just keep getting worse.

Edit: (Caveat) There are times when I think things are personal on the internet and, on Instagram for example, people can unfollow people for truly personal reasons (especially if they know them in real life somehow or have become genuinely close). That can be hurtful. But I think that’s the rare exception. And for those of you reading this who I no longer follow somewhere, nine times out ten I didn’t mean to unfollow you as something against you personally per se. That’s unusual. Again, some distance can be good as it gives people freedom to comment as little or like as little or as much as they want. On Instagram just only follow a few people who I’m in almost constant interaction with in some way. For me, unless I want to follow a lot of people and lose track of who I’m following (to some extent) I have to draw the line somewhere… There are rare exceptions (people who don’t follow me back or like much and etc. – often people who’s accounts I admire and specialize in something like antiques, jewelry, old film, or are at least somewhat famous) but that’s basically how I run that account. Really, if we’ve talked and I unfollow you it’s likely because you seemed to have lost interest over time… Truly. I may have or do count you as an acquaintance but you’re likely not someone I would count as a real friend although I don’t wish you harm. I would hope you feel the same…

One more edit: I think there’s a huge difference between seeing what people are passively aggressively doing, openly doing, and/or etc. to being unkind or to provoke one and having boundaries in self defense in place because of that and taking things too personally.

Vega (2006)

So, I bought a sample of the 2006 version of Guerlain Vega for comparison. I was curious to see how much it had changed and I was curious to see how “off” my very vintage bottle of Guerlain Vega is.

They’re definitely the same fragrance and it seems the parfum of the original version stayed in good condition. None of the notes seem that altered, unpleasant or “off” and it’s easy to find the common notes in both versions (although they’re not totally identical of course). However, despite the innate commonalities there are a few noticeable differences.

Aside from a bit less depth, the 2006 version is also less powdery, more sharp, less vanillic, less smoky, and more tangy. While the original version almost makes you want to cry with its authentic, emotive core, the 2006 version is more defiant, punchy and perhaps a little more green. Actually, I almost think I smell lily in the 2006 edition…although that note isn’t listed.

The 2006 version would have been worn by a young, quick-witted Katherine Hepburn… And the older version would have been more suited to a melancholy Greer Garson or a particularly earnest Ginger Rogers. But that’s just my opinion. Either way my vintage bottle is from the collection of Old Hollywood star, Jane Withers.

I want another bottle… 😂

Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot and orange blossom. Middle notes: jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, blackcurrant blossom, carnation, iris and rosewood. Base notes: vanilla, sandalwood and amber.

Nose: Jean Paul Guerlain

Vega (original 1936)

Like a sultry, honey-drenched version of Liu, Guerlain Vega (original formulation Guerlain 1936) opens with Guerlain aldehydes and warm florals. Bergamot adds a faint, demure, ladylike edge. Orange blossom a definite soapiness. And sweet, gentle, woody iris is the floral from the bouquet that eventually wins on my skin. Although, smoky jasmine, rose and lush ylang ylang quickly trail behind. Into the drydown it reminds me ever so slightly of very vintage Lanvin My Sin with its ripe, boozy quality. But still, that soapiness (orange blossom) re-emerges every so often and this takes on a very unique personality. Actually, more than any other vintage fragrance I’ve smelled I think this would be paired well with a long fur coat and evening gown… It’s something special.

Nose: Jacques Guerlain

Aquaflore

A pretty, light floral? This is it. Aquaflore (Carolina Herrera 1997) is slightly fruity (citrus, peach and melon) airy and unassuming. Actually though, it’s very “clean” and in the drydown it smells like a rainy day… But it’s a “clean and rainy” done by Carolina Herrera of course, and it’s a (late) 90’s fragrance so it has the inherent joyful optimism of that time (i.e. the same feeling given by some of the Aqua Allegoria fragrances, Jean Patou Sublime, Lancôme Trésor or Estée Lauder Pleasures). I like it a lot and it works well with my chemistry. I want a bigger bottle!

Top notes: mandarin, peach, violet, and melon. Middle notes: lily of the valley, jasmine, cyclamen, and rose. Base notes: sandalwood, musk, amber and iris.

Fendi

This was one of my (paternal) Grandma Adeline’s favorite fragrances. Smelling the perfume from this late 1980’s or early 90’s bottle I am transported back to my grandparent’s house. Fendi (Fendi 1985) wafted around various spots and left a pleasing fragrance trail.

Fendi suited Adeline so well. She had dark brown, well coiffed hair and brown eyes with fair skin. And while she was sweet and somewhat demure she definitely had an elegant, but surprisingly feisty edge.

As a young woman Adeline planned to be an actress but then my grandfather spotted her and her bright smile and she found herself living a much quieter life. Although, they did spend quite a few years at the start of their marriage in San Francisco, with my grandfather managing a Naval shipyard during WWII. She absolutely loved it there…

Really, Fendi is just her. It’s spicy. And it’s warm but in a camphor-like, powdery and hauntingly resinous way. It reminds me of the lit stained glass, mahogany, sleek silk and pipe tobacco smoky corners of a fragrance from the 1930’s actually. But, it’s all of that with a 1980’s opulence.

The amber, oakmoss, sandalwood, nutmeg and musk mix with the beautiful, grand florals to perfection. And the drydown is pretty, poignant and gentle with its honeyed grace.

I couldn’t wear this as often as my Grandma Adeline did but I thoroughly enjoy it when I do. Oh, and for those of you who love Papillon Artisan Perfumes think: Salome (in my opinion).

Top notes: coriander, aldehydes, mandarin orange, bergamot, Brazilian Rosewood, lemon, and cardamom. Middle notes: lily-of-the-valley, rose, ylang ylang, geranium, jasmine, cypress and carnation. Base notes: amber, cedar, vanilla, sandalwood, tonka bean, musk, leather, patchouli and spices.

My Great Grandparents

I grew up hearing stories about my maternal family from all of my relatives.  And after writing that last post I think I’ll share a little…

Once my maternal great grandparents from Norway arrived here they worked at a few farms earning and saving money.  Then they both went to North Dakota and acquired homesteads.

My great grandmother had a small house near a pond that later became a sort of summer house for her where she would go to do artwork, listen to the radio, read and just relax.  She did have eight children after all.  I’m sure she needed to have a break sometimes and be alone.  She was also a sort of local midwife and homeopathic healer.  People often relied on her for help when the doctor was too far or etc.

My great grandfather’s homestead was the one that was enlarged and where my great grandparents eventually built everything and raised their children.  It wasn’t too far from my great grandmother’s homestead but they weren’t neighbors and that’s not how they met.

My great grandmother had gone into town to work as a cook at a hotel.  Perhaps it wasn’t safe enough to be a young woman alone, in your early 20’s, on a homestead.  So while she kept her homestead she worked in town.

My great grandfather, after establishing his homestead in 1905, was regularly farming and had crops and one year in the late 1900’s he brought his harvest into town to be sold when he stayed at the hotel my great grandmother was working at as a cook.  He ate at the hotel restaurant and he was so smitten by her cooking, her pancakes in particular, that he requested to meet her.  So they then met, fell in love and were married in 1908.

They adored each other as people.  They had an enormous amount of respect for each other.

My great grandmother was a true genius.  And while my great grandfather was very intelligent, he was more or less known more for his extremely even temperament and wisdom…

They belonged to two different political parties and would often have heated (but well mannered) discussions about politics in the kitchen/dining room of their house.   Their children followed suit and that sort of passionate debate mixed with respect still prevails in our family about the topics of the day.

Some of us are Republicans like my great grandma and some of us are Democrats like my great grandpa.  Many of us neither.  But we all try to remember that being kind and preserving family love and connection is more important than just winning a verbal battle.

But truly though, my great grandfather did have to occasionally “put his foot down” regardless of their easy connection. Once during the height of the Great Depression my great grandmother got the idea that the family should sell the farm/ranch and move to Oregon.  She had a cousin who had moved to Oregon and he talked about how green and lovely it was out there.  (the 1930’s were incredibly dry in many parts of the US – they were the “dust bowl years”)  But my great grandfather said, “No! The only place I’m moving to is the churchyard when I’m buried.”

When my great grandfather was assertive and earnest like that my great grandmother knew she needed to take him very seriously and listen.  So, they didn’t move.  And thank goodness they didn’t.  It was important to actually own land during those years and it is now too of course, and my great grandfather knew that.  He had learned that lesson back in Norway.

While it was hard to grow things during the 1930’s and they did have to endure the heat and dry-as-a-bone conditions of that era (in a nice new stucco house my great grandfather built in 1929 however, mind you) they never went hungry and they tried to help their neighbors. Although those neighbors thinned out in numbers considerably during the 1930’s.   As my grandmother used to say, “They left between the dawn and the daylight.”  And, they never returned.

Once, during that time, a man walked in off the road near their house, opened the front door, meandered over to the kitchen/dining room, stood by the table and grabbed a large pitcher of milk sitting on the table for lunch.  He then proceeded to drink the entire thing in front of everyone without saying a word.  Everyone just peacefully sat there and watched him…  Then, after saying “Thank you.” he walked quickly and silently right back out the door and they never saw him again.  But that sort of thing was not uncommon.

Sometimes they ate Russian Thistle.  And of course they ate dandelion greens.  And there was meat and milk from the animals (who also sometimes ate the Russian Thistle).   There were also berries… And homemade baked goods.

My grandmother, their daughter, adored FDR.  He helped rid the Midwestern plains of the wild dust that would fly about from the dry, overly farmed land by having farmers plant coniferous trees to line their fields.  And, of course, FDR created jobs by building bridges, dams, roads and the like.  More specifically to my grandmother’s neighborhood, he put in safer gravel roads instead of the dusty dirt ones that would go airborne before.  It was all part of the “New Deal” and it worked.

And then in the early 1940’s it finally rained!  It went from dry, brown earth to green, lush and cool rolling hills as far as the eye could see.   It was an amazing change.  My great grandmother was relieved they hadn’t sold it all and left.

There were visitors from Norway in the 1940’s either right before World War II or right after (I can’t remember right off hand)…  One of my great grandfather’s nephews from Norway had become a professor (I think those who stayed in Norway in the family managed to do well too) and he was in an exchange program with an American professor who went to Norway.  His nephew brought his whole family and they were at the farm and I’m sure that was lovely for everyone.

And, eventually, my great grandfather took my great grandmother to Norway in the early 1950’s to visit everyone who was still living, which was no small thing in the early 1950’s – to travel from North Dakota to Norway and back for a vacation.  I think they were gone just over a month (maybe with between a week to two weeks of just traveling?).   However, I believe their parents were dead, sadly, at that point and in my great grandmother’s case she hadn’t seen them since she was 17 years old.  I’m sure they wrote each other but that’s hardly the same thing, of course.

Anyway, I could keep writing but I think I’ll stop.  Someday I’d love to write a novel based on the stories I’ve heard about these people but at the very least I need to write this all down someday.  Our oral history about ourselves and our origins are very important.

Immigrants

I think I’ll share a few personal thoughts on my blog here and there.  This post included, obviously.

A recent pleasant exchange on Instagram with a friend from college has me thinking about what it means to be an immigrant or descendant of immigrants in the US.   And, of course, we all are descendants of immigrants unless you can claim your ancestors were the Native Americans who lived here before the US was ever even a concept.

I can’t speak for my husband’s family but my ancestors had two vastly different experiences in the US when they arrived.

On my mother’s father’s side it was rather nice actually, I think.  When they arrived in the US from England they stayed at the home of a military official in Virginia while they arranged things.   Indeed, they bought a thousand acres and built living quarters in a relatively short amount of time after being warmed, fed and probably pleasingly entertained in the home of a prominent man.  Aside from the inherent limitations of the 1730’s they had a fairly decent transition to the US it seems.  And then they were off and running their successful plantation, etc. without too much trouble.  They eventually fought in the Revolutionary War and at some point started a second successful plantation.  Anyway, they were very fortunate.  But they were and still are the exception to the rule in the US.  And by the way, I know all of this about that family because there was a book written about us by one of my mother’s second cousins (maybe second cousin once removed?) after he researched it for about twenty years (securing historical documents, traveling, interviewing all of our relatives, etc., etc.).

Oftentimes when you first arrive here in the US you don’t speak the language well or you have an “undesirable” accent but my English ancestors spoke English with what was likely a “good” accent. Still, my other ancestors all spoke Norwegian. Even though at least some of the Norwegians in my lineage came from fairly well educated “middle class” families in Norway (certainly those on my mother’s side) they certainly weren’t native English speakers by a long shot.

And some of the Norwegians were “young and poor” which is different than just poor of course because it means you’re “starting out” in some way (those on my mother’s side at least)… but there were those who were just flat out poor when they arrived (one family on my father’s side).   In that truly poor Norwegian family they had the trials of all of the other Norwegian ancestors who came with a bit more to draw from but with less of a “cushion.”  And frankly, the bravery and fortitude of even the “young and poor” Norwegians alone was epic.   Really, they all braved a lot…and could have very easily died.

Anyway, my great grand uncle in that genuinely poor family (his sister was my great grandmother) taught himself how to write and read in English and was eventually an editor-in-chief of the largest Norwegian newspaper in the US for many years.  And he wrote (and published) quite a few books, one of which was translated into English.  In fact he was so truly good and brilliant with his writing and so well recognized that he often was invited to give guest lectures at universities back in Norway on the topic of Norwegian American literature and he was eventually knighted by the King of Norway for his novels and contribution to the understanding of the Norwegian American immigrant experience.  He was one of those people who didn’t let the poverty of his childhood keep him entangled and instead he managed to use it to inspire and inform him about the deeper meaning of life.

He was not an ashamed man, I don’t think.   Nothing in his life kept him captive. But, he did come from a nurturing and stable family despite their poverty and that does count for almost everything in life regardless of class or immigrant status.   And again, he was very gifted and intelligent.

But actually, none of my Norwegian ancestors were ashamed.  Truly.  But they weren’t hostile or arrogant either.   And perhaps that’s the key to making it in the US as an immigrant? You have to keep your head up despite it all.  You have to remember who you are as a human being and your healthy, meaningful human connections (like family) aside from being a recent immigrant…

While they did well in the US and mostly all (except for one set of immigrants on my paternal mother’s side) became at least fairly well off in their lifetime (by the 1920’s, 30’s or after) none of my Norwegian ancestors who immigrated would have been considered part of “society” when they first arrived (I don’t think, at least). There was an innate humility to their lives.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about how he had crushes on some of the pretty blond Scandinavian girls in Saint Paul. Those families were likely a part of the same wave from Scandinavia to the Midwest that my ancestors were a part of. He used to drive around an extra block or two on his way home just to see a flash of their hair…   But he also states that he never would have considered pursuing his attractions further because none of the Scandinavians had yet raised to the level of social status and prominence he felt he had to be associated with at that time.   Of course, he was correct.  (that was around the 1910’s or a bit earlier)

Now, my great grand uncle published one of his most famous books in 1915…but…he wasn’t knighted until 1954.  And again, the Scandinavians who became part of the upper middle and upper class by at least the middle of the Twentieth Century (or a few decades before) certainly weren’t there yet in the 1910’s…  Scandinavians were too new off the boat until a few decades later.  (literally)

…But all that to say that it’s important to remember our immigrant history today.   And as long as the US continues to be what it was to a reasonably discernible degree…(pause to pray and cross my fingers that we won’t entirely fall apart or the world won’t entirely fall apart)…some of the immigrants of “today” could easily be in a very different place in the world within a few decades or their children will be. That’s an interesting thing to imagine.  Isn’t it?  Sometimes I wonder if that’s what some naysayers are actually worried about…

Of course, I think what it all boils down to is who we all are on human level.  There will always be those who don’t cope well with the American immigrant experience regardless of how welcoming the US was or is.  There always have been…   And then there are some families or people who manage to do very well and who still will regardless of the current state of things and how hostile it may or may not be for them here…   And, I think, love, loyalty, and trust within a family is important but especially when you’re a (newly arrived) immigrant family.  Also, wisdom and shrewdness and a realistic but somewhat optimistic perspective coupled with a hope in something innately good outside of your everyday experience and self might be key to “making it” in the US?  Very trite but perhaps true?

My great grand uncle would have had a few things to add too (haha).  He had a lot of very sharp opinions on what was truly helpful and what was detrimental for new American immigrant communities, families and individual people…

Anyway, when my Norwegian great grandfather on my mother’s side arrived here he was almost tricked and trapped into marrying the farmer’s daughter at a farm where he was working as a hired hand to make enough money to establish his own homestead.  The farmer’s daughter thought my great grandfather was a handsome man and wanted to marry him so her father threw my great grandfather’s trunk into a grain bin to hide it and keep him there indefinitely.   He had to dig out his trunk and run away with it in the middle of the night to avoid his abusive boss and the daughter.

When my maternal Norwegian great grandmother arrived she was conned by someone promising to help her contact her family to let them know she had arrived safely…  She quickly learned to be very careful.

She and my great grandfather (her husband) might not have been seen as terrorists, criminals or spies but they were seen as vulnerable and weak targets.  And at times they were profoundly lonely.  My great grandfather had to buy a pocket watch from JC Penney to break the silence on his homestead (he eventually started the homestead in 1905) because the quiet was so entirely overwhelming.

And in some cases, as my paternal great grand uncle wrote about, on the Midwestern prairie there were Native American visitors who were friendly and at other times there were Native American visitors who were violent, angry and would kill you.  And there were coyotes…  And epidemics.   And the horrible snowstorms and tornadoes were terrifying (I kid you not, one of my paternal great grandmothers was once thrown by a tornado into a wheat field as a child and miraculously survived)…    And I could go on and on with horror stories.  But…  things went on.  And they likely will now too.

Subtleties

I certainly have already upset some people with my posts in the past.  And I’m a bit bored right at this moment so…I think I’m going to just go for it.  It’s fascinating to me.

I’m going to give my impression of indicators of class.  I’ll likely avoid the most offensive things I could say (not in spite but in brutal honesty) to not garner too much hate since while I did close the comments on this blog my Instagram is still vulnerable to ugly messages or comments.

Yay!

When people talk about social class cues I think they often come up with three things: cars, homes, and clothing (including accessories).  But I think that’s because a lot people having that discussion are middle class and those are very middle class ways of indicating your social standing.

I don’t think clothing or cars (and to some degree housing) are clear indicators of anything other than whether or not you’re dirt poor.

There.  I’m sure I just pissed someone off by saying that…  Ha!  Oh well.  I’m not trying to.  I just really don’t think they are…

See…if you save or buy on credit you can have almost anything in regard to clothes and cars unless you’re truly poor.  One Rolex or a Tiffany and Co. engagement ring with a nice sized diamond is doable by the working class if they go into debt or save for long enough. And you can have a decent, somewhat “expensive” and at least fairly new wardrobe and only be lower middle class. Etc. Etc.

Perhaps having many luxurious clothing items, more than one luxury car or a combination of enough of both might mean you’re more likely to be at least middle middle class (and too far in debt for it to be wise most often if you are just middle middle class). Or you’re brilliant at finding good deals or you know how to budget and save and you only splurge on cars and clothes. But bargain hunting and splurging occasionally aren’t indicators of class necessarily either…. Or you’re upper middle class, well off and enjoy either showing others your affluence or using luxury goods.   Or you are wealthy but newly wealthy and don’t realize how quickly money goes…. Or you’re wealthy and don’t care how quickly money goes and are at least a tiny bit of a hedonist? …But…truly… it takes a lot of nice clothes and definitely more than one really nice car to mean you’re even rich or well-off…much less wealthy, in my opinion. And frankly buying an excessive amount of expensive things is suspect when it comes to class because while that might mean you have more money it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re well-bred or grounded enough to keep your wealth long enough to be truly upper class. Indeed, general overspending really does indicate a lack of sophistication in my opinion.   Or it means you have an addiction…   Or it can often mean you’re insecure about your status and trying to seem wealthy or more wealthy.  And truly, blowing away all or almost all of your millions in a few decades or less is not particularly upper class regardless of how many millions you had. At all.

Also, I guess…basically…there are so many truly upper middle class or upper class people who are frugal (to the point of absurdity at times) that clothing and cars (often two terrible ways to spend money if you look at it objectively) are not good indicators of class.  And, again, there are soo many people trying to seem wealthy who aren’t, (although they often fool their social equals, those who are naturally a bit naive, and those beneath them), who overspend so much on cars and clothes that it further clouds those indicators.   Clothing, cars (and housing) are just not useful ways to measure someone’s class…

That being said, the way you wear your clothes matters.  The way you wear your hair means something…   The style you wear or how stylish you are indicates something, at least. It might just mean that you’re efficient or artistic though, if you dress well…

And, to clarify, when it comes to housing it’s the quality that matters (if it even works all that much as a definite indicator). Quantity matters to some degree but…quality (and I don’t just mean size) is a much better cue. And while many people think home ownership is a good indicator I don’t think it’s all that accurate. However, not being able to buy a home does tend to rule you out of being as socially high as at least the middle middle class depending on where you want to live. For example, let’s say the median home price in the US is $188,000 (that’s fairly accurate as I write this) and let’s say you can afford that but you can’t afford a house that’s $600,000 and homes are almost all around $600,000 where you live. You might be middle middle class in that case, easily, and just live in a well off area (home ownership is not the best indicator given regional differences).

BUT here are two living examples of people who further explain what I mean and where I’m going with this:

I know a woman in her 70’s who has had a long mink coat for decades that’s in impeccable condition (she likely purchased it new).  And she uses it to go the opera with her husband and has for a long time.  Or she might wear it to the ballet…  Both she and her husband have season tickets to the local opera, ballet, and etc.  They travel around the world elegantly every year and have for many years.  They donate money and time. They own a nice house. They likely have a net worth that’s at least in the millions if not tens of millions of dollars and they invest very wisely.  She came from a wealthy, well educated and fairly sophisticated immediate family. Both she and her husband are well educated, highly intelligent, forward-thinking (despite her lovely mink 😂☺️), have lots of life experience and are both politically and socially very well connected. They have one daughter who is well educated, brilliant, financially well off (or wealthy), sophisticated and extremely well traveled. They’re also in various clubs and etc. To put it bluntly, they are upper middle class at least.  And actually, they are more than likely, upper class.  But…she has never made a “big deal” about her mink.  She doesn’t make a “big deal” about anything she wears or owns. Although she does have pride and so does her husband. They are also quite frugal… However, what she does wear she wears neatly, carefully, and her tastes are lovely and unassuming.

I knew another woman who worked very hard and had three kids. She was a pre-school teacher. Her husband didn’t work much or at all. They hadn’t gone to college. They lived in an apartment that was fairly decent. BUT her husband spent money they didn’t have on decorations for their apartment, video games, and other unnecessary things so frequently that they had to often borrow money from friends, co-workers and neighbors to pay for food. Then…one day…she announced that she and her husband had gone out and bought a brand new car (they didn’t need). She was a little bit conceited about it and certainly oblivious to how offensive it was to those she had relied on for money for food. Another day she bought a new handbag she just “had to buy” (although it was a gift for someone). They also took a vacation to Hawaii around this time… You might not have guessed it from looking at her, hearing her chatting about visiting Hawaii, or meeting her casually (based on her clothes, or car, etc. per se) but she was poor… She truly couldn’t even afford toilet paper after her financial expenses. Although, she did lack a certain comfortability or natural, unaffected ease with what she wore and with what she owned.

What does indicate class – what does hint at your actual (honest) assets (physical and non physical), in my opinion, are: 1. Your particular perspective on anything and everything, 2. How insecure you are, or how ashamed or honest you are about certain things and what you’re insecure, ashamed or dishonest about (that’s closely related to perspective – sorry), and 3. How comfortable you are in various situations and how you present yourself… I guess, really, to summarize, one’s perspective and all the variations on that are reliable indicators to me of class. And it’s often very subtle.

Wages

I’d like to further elucidate and nail down a few things.

Given that you have to be at least wealthy (see my previous definition) to be upper-class or come from an established (at least more than one generation) upper-class family and be some sort of exception, I think there’s a fairly good line in the sand there between upper-middle and upper-class.  Everything beneath that (socioeconomically speaking) and before working class is some form of middle class.  And, of course, that covers a lot of people…

By the way, in short-hand, working class to me is that group of people who are barely “making it” but still definitely “making it” financially out of a lack of a good wage and who don’t have the family connections (money, social connections, understanding, etc.) to rest on.  People in that group can sometimes have come from middle-class families (although rarely as high as the upper-middle class, I think), but they just had tough luck too many times or made poor decisions enough that they fell a bit lower than the middle-class.  Those people don’t often own a home or if they do it’s not often well-maintained (in good shape) or it’s not well appointed.  Being able to maintain a modest home and not skimp on your groceries too much or etc. but still struggling financially from time to time is one possible indication (in some cases) of the line between lower middle and working class in my mind.

When you can barely afford housing of any sort and have very little money in general…you’re poor.  Again, it’s pretty simple. (Unless you are the child of the established upper class)

But what is “very little” to me (outside of net worth)? Well, that brings me to the title of my post.

Often when you read about class you find people discussing, “the amount of money people make.”  I think that’s not necessarily the best place to start but I understand why it’s done that way.

So, I’m going to explain what my thoughts are on where the lines are according to wages, but please keep in mind that if you’re heavily in debt or come from a background either educationally, familial, geographically, or experience-wise that sets you back in non-material resources or propels you up and/or you have big debts your wage isn’t at all as clear cut in regard to class.  And certainly if you are heavily in debt (which is relative to your net worth – i.e. billionaires could be hundreds of thousands in debt and it’s not the same thing as it is to a millionaire) it’s not clear cut in regard to physical assets either.

Anyway, if you are 60 and earn above $30,000 up to $55,000 a year you’re either working class or lower middle class depending on debt, non-material resources, and future prospects.  Again, if you’re 60 years old and that’s your wage and you have less than $50,000 to $100,000 in savings/retirement/financial assets and little debt (debt that’s less than $10,000) you might be working class to lower middle class depending on your non physical resources and financial obligations.  Furthermore, if you have a middle class or at least working class family of origin and at least a high school diploma with training in some marketable field with that amount you’re likely in that range (unless you come from the upper class of course).  That might be being too “generous” in one direction or another, but anyway…

If you earn that amount with the same obligations, background, etc., etc. and you’re around 30 or 20 years old and in good health it’s a different story though, especially if you have the prospect of future advancement.  In that case, if you’re not supporting a family of over one child and a spouse with that amount you might be solidly lower middle class, especially depending on where you live (note all related caveats).

Anything above $55,000 (unless there’s more than one dependent child) to $120,000 (a year) and you’re most generally swimming somewhere in the middle middle class…  Of course, if you’re 25 to 30, unmarried, with no kids and making $100,000 with no or little debt (maybe some savings) and from a well-off background you’re edging very close to being upper-middle class if you’re not there already.  And obviously some people are more firmly middle class (whether lower, middle, or upper) than others when you measure it all out given all the various factors.

If you’re making above $125,000 depending on your obligations, debt, age and etc. you may be upper-middle class or just barely upper-middle class.  And again, net worth is so important.

$500,000 a year at any age is either rich or wealthy and either upper class or very upper-middle class/almost upper class, depending on the various factors.  But you can be definitely upper middle with one million a year or upper class with $250,000 depending on the various factors.  It’s incredibly complicated…and every case is different, of course.

If you’re making over a million a year your non-material assets become extremely important to defining your class (like your understanding of how to use, save and spend money).  Beyond that I don’t think much changes.  If you go through money too quickly or handle it unwisely that will never seem “well-bred” or at least will make you look foolish.  Anyway…  Most people never have to deal with that situation.

It feels good to be a little more exact.  I’m sure I’m boring people and I could be more exact and accurate but this is a very rough sketch.

(Also, obviously, if you inherit money that propels your net worth into the wealthy range your non-material assets and debt become as equally important as if you’re earning the money. And frankly inherited money has its own non material asset inherently attached since it’s almost always familial.)

(Also, also…cues that indicate where you fall on the social spectrum (i.e. saying things like “I grew up in a hood.” or “We took our plane for the weekend to the Florida Keys.”) are complex to discern but can be discerned – hence earlier posts. But I won’t go into that much detail on this blog. Or at least not yet.)

Now

This blog is about to become a mess, at least in my mind.  But it already is a bit of a meandering, at times poorly worded and rambling mess, I guess, so what’s the difference?  I know I’m a decent writer to a point but goodness I don’t edit well enough (in my opinion) and when I’m flustered, stressed-out or angry I make embarrassing typos and suddenly and mysteriously “forget” which version of their\they’re\there to use.

But you see, I’ve changed my mind and realized a thing or two in the last few weeks.  First, I’m an intj and infj in equal measure.  For years I’ve been operating under the idea that I was just putting on the “thinking” to be strong for myself and that I am really a pure infj at my core. However, I think I just am an intj at least in equal measure to an infj, if not more so. And it’s been awful actually.  Most of the misunderstandings I’ve experienced in life with otherwise decent people have stemmed from them taking something I said or did and not realizing the well-intentioned aspect of the seeming coldness, condescension, cutting edge or distance.  Actually, it’s a bit like using the wrong form of the word their.  They read it, “Their is the ugly house.” (please read with a tone of disdain) when it’s actually, “There is the ugly house.”  (read with a tone of some unassuming detachment but interest).  I’m coldly calling a house ugly because it is.  I’m not trying to be hurtful.  At all.   But they inherently read that “their” as being the right form for some reason that still escapes me (but has always intrigued me) and start thinking that a.  I’m an idiot who can’t form a proper sentence to save my life and, b. that I’m a jerk who is looking down on some poor fool for their best attempt at home ownership.  It’s been heartbreaking my whole life to be slapped in the face with people’s misunderstanding.  And of course, it’s been equally heartbreaking to project my good intentions on other people only to later see their ill-intent to hurt me in some subtle way that doesn’t come naturally to me. I’ve had to force myself to look at their words and actions in painful detail and dissect what the hell they actually meant when I gave them a million benefits-of-the-doubt and thought they were just being objective.

Basically, things have to make sense to me.  I long to understand.  And things usually do make sense eventually.  Or I ruminate for as long as it takes to figure “it” out.

But I still do think western society is crumbling and I still do think people are more hostile recently (last five years or so) than they have been in the last twenty to thirty years at least.  And I still will hesitate to open up on this blog in such a way that I can be easily hurt again.

Yet, I’ve realized I need to talk.  I need to explain.  I need to deal with why I thought I should give up on being so open.  Give up on it entirely.  And in order to explain I have to make a “personal post” on this blog.  So I’m going back on what I wrote earlier about never doing that again, and therefore I’m also making something slightly confusing to untangle unless you read every post in the order it was posted.  Oh well.

OK.  Here goes.  I’ll start with basics.

In my estimation there are two factors that make up your social class.  One is your material assets and the other is your non-material assets.  The non-material assets are where people get the most confused in the US.  Although I think people are extremely confused about class in general.

Let’s start from the top of the heap in regard to material assets (I’m using dollars to explain): I don’t think it’s accurate to say that anyone but those with at least a definite two to three million dollars (net) are wealthy.  But that’s the entry-level of wealth.  And it works a bit like the middle-class (again, at least in my estimation).  Those with that lower level of wealth are the “lower middle-class” of the wealthy set.  Once you have perhaps 25 to 100 million you are more solidly “middle-class” in your wealth.  Anything above a 100 million makes you very wealthy.  And the rare super wealthy are the billionaires.

Anyone with a net worth below two to three million but above about one million is rich but not wealthy.  Anyone with a net worth below about a million dollars but above about $200,000 is well-off depending on age.  People in their late 40’s and older with only $200,000 net are not well-off if they plan to retire before they’re likely too old to enjoy it (assuming they’re working).

If you have less than $200,000 in your net worth and you’re young or in reasonably good health with some source of income that can sustain you and possibly cause you to have a lot more money if you don’t make too many foolish financial decisions then you’re “doing ok” and are potentially somewhat stable but you’re not well-off.   Furthermore, anyone with less than $50,000 or so in net worth is in danger and if they don’t have a good source of income or are in bad health they may become poor or already are.  Less than a stable income (with an equally unfortunate net worth) and you’re clearly poor.

That’s harsh but, I think, fairly accurate.  And the funny thing is if people looked at it that coldly we’d all be a lot more depressed about how in debt and lacking in long-term “financial health” most of us are.  It’s also easy to think that if you have debt but also have “assets” like a nice house or car that you’re better off financially than you are.  But truly, I think, you have to weigh how much you can actually make from those assets against that debt.  Otherwise it’s just financially dangerous self-deception that leads you think that you have more material resources than you actually do.

Most people are not wealthy.  Few people are rich.  Only a fair amount are truly well-off and a lot of people are struggling in some way financially.

(This is going to be a long post.  There’s a reason I avoided this but I now realize it was necessary.)

Now, non-material assets are tricky.  Those include complicated things like your family history, education level, where you grew-up, what you’ve been exposed to otherwise and the like.  I would generally say that family history gets top billing followed very closely by education level.  Coming in third is where you grew-up.  And the wild-card that can almost make-up for everything with the exception of family history is what you’ve been exposed to in life.

It’s fairly simple if you’re objective about it.  Obviously if you come from a family that has been collecting non-material and material status positively for generations you have a higher social status.  If your family of origin wasn’t middle class but working class it affects you your whole life.  You can be a billionaire but you’ll never be the social equal (objectively and truthfully speaking) of someone who’s family was solidly middle-class (or higher obviously) and who is your equal otherwise.  It’s sad if you want to be “top dog” and come from a poorer family background but that’s where one has to be deep enough not to let your social status determine your overall self-worth.  Also, there are many people with that background who have done amazing things out of that insecurity because they’re trying to prove something about the intrinsic value of their soul.  If they do it humbly, brilliantly and kindly enough it can be world changing in a great way.

And by what you’re exposed to I mean acquiring “life knowledge” and sophistication (still vague sorry).   Just watch the 1954 version of “Sabrina” and you’ll see what I mean.  Audrey Hepburn’s character goes to Paris and accumulates a wealth of understanding and “worldliness” and becomes quite the impressive lady in her own right.  She can’t make up for her family history, lack of material assets, and almost can’t make up for her education level (one can assume she hasn’t been educated beyond high school).  But she’s so “cultured” and yet has the good taste, wisdom and perspective to be careful (along with an incredible amount of natural beauty) that she genuinely turns the heads of the upper-class.  And then she “marries in” and while she isn’t truly “one of them” in the way she would have been had she been born into it, she comes as close as you can.  And it’s not the same thing for women or men who are “self-made” with her background but don’t “marry in.”  You have to “marry in” (and permanently keep that association) or let your descendants “join” the solid upper-class in every way when they establish your family in the years to come if you’re “self made.”

And this finally brings me to class.  I believe there’s (from bottom to top): poor, working-class, middle class (subdivided into lower, middle and upper), and finally upper-class (subdivided into lower, middle and upper).   It’s really a rough sort of scale.  Again, obviously, the more non-material assets and more material assets you have the higher your status.  With the caveat that some people come from such “old families” in some way that regardless of their current material assets they still cling to a higher social status than they would otherwise.  And, as I alluded to before, there are some people who don’t “marry in” to a higher status and are lacking in the non-material assets, especially family background, enough that regardless of material assets they are lower on the scale to the point that they might have only a weak standing in the upper class (even if their material assets rank them higher).

Now, when I talk about family background and its importance I do so because in that is included vast depths that are basically almost impossible to describe in one post.  It’s that profound.  It’s that stuck in stone.  And it seemingly always has been in one way or another.  Family of origin really is important in every conceivable way as a human.

And while education is important as a non material asset and is incredibly complex too (for example) it still doesn’t equal a human family in its impact (in any regard).  It just can’t.  Same for the other forms of non-material assets.

SO, all that to explain a bit of where I was coming from in my previous posts.  And I could go on and on and on and refine my assessment of the terrain I just covered to make it more clear and airtight but I don’t think I will right now.

But let me explain more.

See, I have had a very confusing life in some ways.  And as an intj that is very difficult.  And in the last six to seven years (slightly longer) or so I’ve had to totally reevaluate things about my family and self in regard to social status in light of new information that was kept quiet, hidden or misunderstood.  Or people misinformed me intentionally (although not consciously most likely) out of naivete or some genuine goodness stemming from a very lovely and kind view of the world in certain ways.   But regardless of what happened it’s been very disorientating and embarrassing.  Embarrassing because I’ve had to go into the hostile terrain of class and be willing to make an accidental ass of myself with my lack of clarity.  Embarrassing because I take things apart slowly to get them right but am often in situations where I’m expected to already “know what’s going on” or hurt someone or possibly get hurt myself.

Anyway, this has been a personal issue I’ve been tinkering with and ironing out intensely and it’s been on my mind consciously or subconsciously.  At the same time, that’s not to say that it’s an obsession.  I just ponder things (and not just this) a lot.  I’m an introvert (and thinker).  And what I’m thinking about will eventually emerge in discussion.

AND when I started blogging about perfume and posting on Instagram and found a world of other people who love olfactory beauty and analyzing that beauty as a way to appreciate, protect and have pure joy in it I was delighted.  These people were almost like magic.  I was thrilled they existed.  But then, I found the downside.  And really, it hasn’t been particularly bad for years.  But then slowly and surely people started becoming more filled with deceptive hostility.  They became more competitive.  And more often than was at all pleasant, every aspect of my being became objects of scorn, jealousy or bitter and at times almost violent envy to the point that it became intolerable.  This beautiful space had shown its true nature; like a friend who finally reveals their flaws when they finally feel safe.  It was jarring and painful.  And mostly because I really needed that safe place intellectually and emotionally.  We all do.  I loved how insulated the community was from so many awful things that seemingly are hurdles in communication, creating closeness or experiencing joy in a lot of human interactions otherwise.  But then I found out the weakness.

People who collect things sometimes (definitely not always) come with prickly and hurtful edges in regard to class.  It just makes sense… And given my own inner ongoing discussion I found the need to confront the ensuing irritations. And being an intj I wanted to experiment and see what would happen if I shared a few of my new found truths about who I am with the ugly side of things.  I wanted to see if the bitterness would respond with more bitterness or if people would acknowledge the seeming pointlessness of the misdirected hostility.  I wanted to test the waters.  And I was angry because I hate inaccuracy.  And I hate dishonesty because it makes getting to the right answer so much more difficult.  (equal parts infj and intj) When people are pretentious (the actual definition of the word), ignorant (truly ignorant) or manipulative (i.e. pretend that you’re the problem when they are) I innately become angry.

I am not a pretentious or dishonest person.  I am wrong sometimes and I make mistakes but I’m quite genuine.  It’s partly just my natural tendency.

Anyway…I learned from my misadventures that you can’t confront people about class.   At least not right now.  They will almost always take something the wrong way and then it’s all ruined and for no good end.  Also, I’ve learned that I have to be strong enough to possibly offend people or accidentally encourage their hatred of me with my social status and my lack of tolerance for cattiness and manipulation.

I’m not sure if I’ll write again on a personal level, but I needed to post this.